Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd was given a whistle stop tour of some of the community work being undertaken at some Marshlink stations last Saturday.
The tour was organised by John Spencer of Winchelsea, one of the volunteers working for the Sussex Community Rail Partnership, the community interest company which encourages community use of the local railway network. Ms Rudd visited Ore, Three Oaks and Winchelsea stations, and was met at each one by community representatives.
Talking about her visit to Ore Station, Ms Rudd said: “It was a pleasure… to see for myself the excellent creative work that has gone into improving both the appearance and atmosphere of the station.
“I would like to thank all the parties involved for their efforts and in particular, the local school pupils whose hard work has succeeded in brightening up the day of rail commuters”.
John Spencer, of ‘THWART’ (Three Oaks and Winchelsea Action for Rail Transport) was pleased with how it went, he said: “Winchelsea and Three Oaks are vital lifelines for our communities, and we were formed some years ago when the train service was reduced significantly.
“We fought hard to reverse those cuts, which we successfully did and both stations now enjoy a regular service seven days a week. With community support we have really improved these stations. It was great to be able to show these successes off to our MP.
“Amber had her eyes opened by the beautiful mural at Three Oaks with artwork from Guestling Bradshaw school, and the new planters, car park and St Thomas’ school artwork at Winchelsea.
“She was able to enjoy a brief coffee break in Winchelsea church on the way to Three Oaks. She had never been in the church before and was blown away by the building and stained glass.”
Trevor Davies, of the Ore Transport group, added: “Pupils of the nearby Baird Academy have done some great artwork to brighten up Ore Station, and the local station manager, Kate Richards, kindly arranged for us to be given some poster frames at the station to house them. It was really nice to see Baird’s principal, Carly Welch, and Anna Beck, the school’s art lead, and some students showing off their work to Amber Rudd.”
Carly Welch, Baird Academy principal, said: “Our students love seeing their artwork on the station. It’s very near to the school, and we were pleased to get involved and help our local community.”
Kevin Boorman, the chair of the Marshlink Community Rail Partnership, says it’s great to see support for smaller stations: “I am very grateful indeed for the work of the volunteers who organised this visit and who do so much for their local train service. This is exactly what the community rail partnership is about,” he said.
John Spencer concluded: “The morning’s visit was organised to showcase to our MP the role volunteers play to help make stations more welcoming and hopefully better used. None of this work could happen without time spent at our stations by volunteers from our respective communities supported by Sussex Community Rail Partnership, Southern and Network Rail.”